As a permanent resident of the United States, you may help a relative become a lawful permanent resident based on your status. To do so, you will need to sponsor your relative and be able to prove that you have enough income or assets to support your relative(s) when they come to the United States. You begin the process by filing Form I-130 , Petition for Alien Relative.
Which relatives may you petition for?
A permanent resident of the United States can file a petition for the following relatives:
- Husband or wife; and
- Unmarried child(ren), regardless of age.
Be aware that only U.S. citizens may petition for married children. When you submit your petition, you are required to provide evidence to prove your relationship to the person for whom you are filing.
What about my relative's family?
In most cases, when your spouse's place in line is reached, his or her unmarried children under 21 years old can follow to join the relative on the same visa petition. However, if an unmarried child turns 21 years old before reaching the “front of the line,” you will need to file a new separate petition for each child included on the original petition.
What a petition does for your relative(s)
Filing an I-130 relative petition and proving a qualifying relationship gives your relative a place in line for a visa number among others waiting to immigrate based on that same kind of relationship from the same country or region. When your relative reaches the head of the line, he or she may be eligible to immigrate. For example: You file an I-130 petition for your husband or wife. When approved, your petition gives him or her a place in the line of people from the same country who are also husbands and wives of permanent residents. Your relative's place in line will be based on the date you file your petition. Therefore, there is an advantage to filing as soon as possible. While there is no waiting line for most immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, sons and daughters over 21 years old will have a waiting time. So if you naturalize while your relatives are waiting for visas, they may be able to immigrate sooner.
After you file, when can your relative enter the United States?
For most relatives, the combination of high demand and the limits set by law on how many people can immigrate each year means that they may have to wait several years. When your relative reaches the front of the line, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) contacts your relative and invites him or her to apply for an immigrant visa.
It is important to note that, effective February 1, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will collect an Immigrant Fee from individuals who have been issued immigrant visas by the DOS and are applying for admission to the United States. The immigrant visa package your relative receives from DOS will contain a handout with information about how to pay the fee. The fee must be paid before your relative travels to the United States.